With the cost of living crisis affecting almost everyone, and with the housing market facing uncertainty coupled with a difficult mortgage landscape for many, families are looking to less conventional solutions to find living arrangements which work for them in an affordable way. One such option is for several generations to share a plot, even if they don’t live under the same roof. Is the archetypal ‘granny annexe’ a good solution to the problem?
The UK does not have a strong tradition of multi-generational living, but the Office for National Statistics suggests that the number of households with three generations has been steadily increasing since 2001. There are a number of positives to combine households, the most obvious being both increased purchasing power and capacity to pay the bills.
Additionally, with childcare costs ever increasing, having a grandparent on hand could enable parents to either increase the amount of work they can do, and therefore earnings, or reduce the childcare bill, which for many families is almost the same as the cost of the mortgage each month. The sale of one property should raise ample funds for an extension, conversion or standalone annexe if a suitable existing property cannot be found locally.
However, having family quite literally on the doorstep will not be for everyone. Care should be taken to fully consider each party’s point of view and also to ensure there is a certain degree of separation, for example, whether the ‘granny flat’ has its own entrance. Equally, shoving Granny in a building at the bottom of the garden is not going to make the situation any easier to navigate, so the choice of property, extension or renovation needs to be made with tact and with an eye on what may happen in the future.
Historically, it was often the case that older family members moved into a bungalow for their retirement years, selling their larger family home and perhaps having some cash left over from the difference in order to supplement the pension. However, with the housing stock of bungalows barely increasing, very small numbers being built, and existing ones being purchased and ‘improved’ either by adding a second storey or by re-using the plot and rebuilding as a house, this will be a less prevalent move in the future.
If there is more than one adult child of the older generation in question, this sort of arrangement can add complexity to probate, or at least the construction of the will, in attempting to be fair to everyone. It can be hard to know what to do. The best conveyancing solicitors Hemel Hempstead and elsewhere such as Sam Conveyancing will help their clients navigate the complexities of the conveyancing process and can provide access to wider legal advice for all parties involved.
The design and construction of the annexe, in whatever form, should also be delivered in such a way that it can adapt as the needs of the occupant evolve, such as requiring greater accessibility.
Living with wider family members isn’t for everyone, but if the right property becomes available, it could certainly be a creative solution to an increasingly difficult housing situation for many families.